Hong Kong govt says riot police 'withdraw'

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Hong Kong riot police have been withdrawn from the streets, authorities say.

Hong Kong's authorities say they are withdrawing riot police from the streets of the protest-wracked city in a major concession to pro-democracy demonstrators.

A statement posted on the government's website read: "Because citizens gathered on the street have calmed, riot police have been withdrawn".

The statement also called on protesters "to give up occupied roads as soon as possible for emergency vehicles to pass through and for the partial restoration of public transport services".

Thousands of protesters have taken control of at least three major thoroughfares, paralysing parts of the city after hours of overnight battles with police firing tear gas.

Throughout Monday morning the police presence has been noticeably more subdued with riot police replaced by smaller numbers of officers in everyday uniforms.

At one protest site in the busy Causeway Bay shopping district there was no visible police presence.

But demonstrators have shown little sign of heeding the government's call to leave the streets.

The demonstrators demanded the resignation of the city's Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, and called on other officials to "stand with the people".

Leung on Monday urged protesters to go home.

"We don't want Hong Kong to be messy," he said.

He denied rumours the government had asked for intervention from the Chinese army.

The occupation of major streets throughout the city began after police sealed off the area around government headquarters, where tens of thousands of students had rallied last week.

Dozens of people have been arrested since Friday, police said.

China's liaison office in Hong Kong condemned the "illegal" protests and supported the Hong Kong government's efforts to tackle them.

The students organised after last month's decision by China's top legislative body to restrict nominations for chief executive during the 2017 elections.

The winning candidate would also have to be formally appointed by the government in Beijing before taking office.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students announced over the weekend that it would extend its boycott of classes "indefinitely".

Occupy Central wants Beijing to rescind the electoral rules and begin a new political reform consultation process.

Britain negotiated a "one country, two systems" principle as part of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

It grants freedoms to Hong Kong residents that are not given to Chinese citizens on the mainland and allows Hong Kong relative autonomy until 2047.

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